Target 2 Consumer Alert: Watch out for gift card scams

Published: Dec. 30, 2018 at 3:37 PM CST
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A major retailer is taking steps to warn about one of the most common and costly scams.

This week Best Buy rolled out this new PSA. The tech retailer has been trying to help stop gift card fraud. Best Buy teamed up with the National Association of Attorneys General and Consumer Advocate : AARP.

“You may get a call or email from somebody pretending to be a family member in distress, or even the IRS. The scammer will ask you to go purchase a gift card. Often in the thousands of dollars. They’ll ask you to give the numbers on the back of the card and if you don't give it to him may threaten your family members may even threaten you with jail time,” said Nancy Leamond with AARP.

The Federal Trade Commission said this year 26% of people reporting scams said they paid with a gift card -- like store brands, ITunes cards. Con artists favor these, because the transaction is quick, often irreversible and they can remain anonymous.

Last week Action 2 News shared the story of a Green Bay man. He bought $1,500 worth of Best Buy and Walmart gift cards. He believed a letter that he was being hired to mystery shop, and he cashed a check to cover the cost of the gift cards, and then shared the numbers on the cards with the scammer.

“Never give your gift card number to somebody you don't know. Once that number is gone so is your money,” said Todd Hartman from Best Buy.

Best Buy said if you receive a call or email asking for payment by gift card, know that it is a scam.

Along with store gift cards, iTunes cards are another request used in scams. According to the Door County Sheriff’s Office scammers are posing as priests sending emails to parishioners asking for iTunes cards to give to someone battling cancer. Fortunately, no one lost any money in this scam.

Officials remind you to verify any money requests -- from text or emails -- especially if it asks for gift cards.